Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Okay, this is hard to believe unless you understand the daily crap faced by Roma throughout  parts of Europe including the Czech Republic.

Seems there was this camp, run by the Czechs, where hundreds of Roma, mainly kids (see above), died of disease, hunger, and abuse during the Nazi era.  The place was named Lety.

Okay, you got that?

Well, last week during a speech marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the camp (which some, including the current President of the Republic like to call a transit camp instead of a concentration camp), PM Petr Necas made a speech.  He said, “We are in a place where innocent people died of typhus, dysentery and hunger and exhaustion.

Got that?

He also said, according to Czech, "...the Czech state has no money to buy a pig farm built over the site."

A pig farm.

Czech Position also points out:

Back in 2005, the Czech Republic was singled out in a European Parliament resolution for failing to remove the pig farm at the site and create “a graceful memorial” to honor victims of the Romani Holocaust. But each government has either called for the issue to be studied further or said there was a lack of funds to do so.


Several Romani associations and others called for a boycott of the commemorative ceremony.    A statement by the groups published in  read:

On Monday, 9 July, near the former site of the Romani concentration camp at Lety, a commemoration organized by the Lidice Memorial will take place. The main speech at the ceremony will be given by Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas.

This gathering is taking place not quite two months after the bereaved and survivors of the Lety concentration camp organized their own commemoration. That gathering was attended by many Romani people, by the direct relatives of victims of the camp, by a large number of ambassadors of foreign states, by church clergy, and by members of the Jewish community. Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková attended on behalf of the Czech Government. Only one senator and one MP attended on behalf of Parliament.

At the gathering organized by those related to the victims of Lety, it is customary for speakers to make realistic assessments sharply criticizing the current state of affairs regarding how the so-called "Romani issue" is being addressed in this country. The occasion has been used to discuss the segregation of Romani children into the "special schools", the forced sterilization of Romani women, anti-Romani marches, the racist rhetoric of politicians seated in Parliament, and the misappropriation of funding intended to assist Romani people. This all usually takes place in the presence of foreign ambassadors, outside the walls of the industrial pig farm that now stands on the site of the former concentration camp.

The Government evidently does not like the commemorations organized by Romani people themselves and has therefore "transferred" the cultural monument at Lety to the management of the Lidice Memorial. That organization takes care of the sites where Czechs were murdered during the war and the memorials to them in the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. We are of the opinion that despite its declared efforts, the Lidice Memorial does not have enough experience, sensitivity or understanding to organize a Romani commemoration ceremony. The bereaved and the survivors do not want the former concentration camp site at Lety to be administered by the Lidice Memorial, for reasons which are already known. We don't want a ceremony in the style of the one held at Lidice, with military music. There is no need to organize a "competing", governmental commemoration of the catastrophe at Lety.

If Prime Minister Petr Nečas wants to honor the memory of the victims of the concentration camp at Lety, he should do it by instructing the Government to acquire and dismantle the pig farm that now covers the places where Romani children perished. He can also end the segregation of Romani children into the "special schools". He can redress the property confiscated from Romani people in the Czech lands during Nazism. He can redress the victims of the sterilization program. As Prime Minister, he can take a stand against the racist rhetoric used by his fellow party members and coalition partners. There is a great deal he can do to aid Romani people. Should the Prime Minister come forward with measures such as these, which will improve the situation of the Romani minority in the Czech Republic, then Romani people will sincerely welcome him to join them at Lety on 13 May.

The following is from The Sun Daily.

Nazi camp-turned-pig farm outrages Czech Roma

 A visit by the Czech prime minister this week to a Roma Holocaust site turned into a pig farm in the 1970s has rekindled outrage among Czech Roma at the state's failure to shut it down, despite European outcry.

Between 1940-43, Nazi Germany and its Czech collaborators imprisoned close to 1,300 Czech Roma at the Lety camp, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of the capital Prague.

Alongside European Jews, the continent's smaller Roma minority was also a target of Nazi genocide during World War II.

Some 327 Roma, including 241 children, died at the camp staffed by an ethnic Czech commander and guards, while more than 500 were sent to Nazi Germany's infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in occupied southern Poland.

In 1972-76, Communists ruling the former Czechoslovakia thought nothing of building a pig farm on the site, subsequently taken over by a private company after regime's collapse in 1989.

Tensions between Czech Roma and authorities have flared over the sensitive issue for well over a decade, with the deeply marginalised Czech minority insisting the state purchase the farm, tear it down and build a fitting memorial.

The European Parliament also urged Prague to remove it in 2005 and again in 2008, but local Roma insist Czech politicians are loathe to tackle the issue due to deep social prejudices across the republic against their community.

"The (Roma) minority ranks permanently among those perceived as the worst and most problematic, which is reflected in attitudes of the politicians," Roma journalist Jarmila Balazova told AFP on Wednesday.

Bitter Roma boycotted memorial ceremonies at the site Monday with right-wing Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas.

"Our primary goal is to see the pig farm removed from the place where our people died because of their race," said Cenek Ruzicka, head of an action committee on the Roma Holocaust.

"You won't find an absurd thing like that anywhere in the world. People don't build pig farms in such places," he fumed, while pointing to a string of empty promises made by successive Czech governments to settle the issue.

Late Czech president Vaclav Havel unveiled a Roma memorial in Lety in 1995, but Czech leaders have since tiptoed around the site until Necas's recent visit, making him the first leader to go there in 17 years.

While Necas slammed what happened to Roma at Lety as genocide, he insisted there was no cash to buy the pig farm.

According to Ruzicka, 300-500 million koruna (12-20 million euros, US$14.5-24 million) would be enough to purchase and tear it down or to build another elsewhere, but the associated political risk would be high.

"Of course politicians know any government seeking to remove it (the farm), will fail in the next elections. The sum is unacceptable for the public," Ruzicka said, insisting no action was taken on a Roma proposal that a long-term government fund be created to save-up for a buyout.

Jiri Leskovec, head of the Agpi company that runs the pig farm, alleges it was built on a green field immediately adjacent to the former concentration camp which was razed at the end of the war.
Historians, however, contend the two sites overlap.

Now with 13,000 pigs and a staff of 12, the farm was originally built at the camp site during the 1970s by a communist state-run company that was privatised as Agpi after the 1989 transition to democracy and capitalism.

"We're terribly sorry we have to remind people of this obvious truth, and of the historic context -- that our people died there under supervision from Czech guards," Ruzicka said.

Of the 9,500 Czech Roma registered before World War II, fewer than 600 returned home after the Holocaust.

An EU country of 10.5 million, the Czech Republic's Roma community is currently estimated to number between 250,000 and 300,000.

Of the roughly one million Roma who lived in Europe prior to WWII, historians believe the Nazis exterminated over half.

Today, it is estimated that over eight million Roma live in Europe. – AFP

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